Friday, October 23, 2009

Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang is an old royal city, but also a French colonial town, so it has a different flavor from any of the cities I visited in Thailand. There is a difference in the architecture as many of the buildings are from the colonial period, and others are built in that style. Add in the fact that it's a stop on the tourist trail and you're left with a city which is a pretty balanced mix of East & West, stray dogs & temples, street markets & internet cafes.

I relaxed in the city the first day, just walking around and reading in cafes. I stopped in at a museum about the different ethnic minorities and learned a little about some of the local hill tribes. The exhibits were well done, and emphasized that the hill tribes are not frozen in time, but ever evolving through trade with each other and exposure to the modern world. They've modified some of their traditions while still holding onto their beliefs and ethnic identity. Much of this identity is expressed through clothing... and Ireally enjoyed inspecting the embroidery and embellishments on the different outfits.

After that I grabbed some lunch at the Morning Glory cafe. It was, without hesitation, the best chicken sandwich I have ever had. There was a warm baguette, sauteed chicken breast, letuce and cheese, but also an herbed mayonaise that was just delicious. I chased this down with a solid liter and a half of water in hopes of replacing the water I'd sweat out earlier in the day. It is HOT here!

I walked around a bit more, saw more temples... honestly, at this point, it's like walking past a Methodist church - they're everywhere here, and it's getting harder an harder for me to tell any two apart. I looked at the different tour options available. Again, it's low season so most of the tours advertised weren't actually going for lack of people. But finally I found a tour that sounded okay... and I'll tell you all about that tomorrow!

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